Don’t Let Your Kid Leave Preschool without an Introduction to Virginia Woolf!
By Kyo Maclear & Isabelle Arsenault
Kids Can Press, $16.95, 32 pages
Virginia Wolf is a darling new children’s book by Kyo Maclear and Isabelle Arsenault. It is very loosely connected with the life of the canonized writer Virginia Woolf and her artist sister, Vanessa Bell. The book introduces the theme of sadness and depression, a challenge that haunted Woolf’s life until its end.
At the beginning of the story, charcoal illustrations mirror Virginia Wolf’s case of the doldrums and unhappiness. It continues until Vanessa paints into existence the perfect imaginary place: Bloomsberry, “I painted trees and strange candy blossoms and green shoots and frosted cakes. I painted leaves that said hush in the wind and fruit that squeaked.” The illustrations begin to effuse bright, pastel-textured colors as Virginia wakes up to the beautiful and fantastic world around her. Virginia suddenly becomes full of life and eager to play with her sister.
Overall, Virginia Wolf is a cute and nerdy play-off of a real woman with real issues. It may be used to teach young children about emotion, depression, love, sisterhood, and helping one another through difficult times.
Reviewed By Emily Davis